PHOENIX, June 5, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In what is being acknowledged even by liberal Catholics as a courageous move, Springfield, IL Bishop Thomas Paprocki debated dissident nun Sr. Jeannine Gramick on the topic of gay “marriage” before a decidedly gay-friendly crowd on Friday. In a shocking revelation in his opening remarks, the bishop told the crowd that his former secretary was brutally murdered by a gay activist simply for suggesting that he change his lifestyle.

Heckling and insults from the crowd and were expected and received as the bishop laid out the argument in favor of traditional marriage, after which he concluded, “some of you may be sneering, and I might be lucky if you said you were willing to hear me again on this topic some other time… In the end, I hope that at least a few of you will agree with my remarks.”

Moderated by journalist Robert Blair Kaiser, the event was held at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ Church.

The Jesuit alumni of Arizona, which organized the event, called it “Two Catholic Views on Marriage,” but in his remarks Bishop Paprocki was quick to point out that was a misnomer. “I corrected that, since there is only one authentic Catholic view,” said the bishop. “There are two views being presented here tonight by two people who are baptized Catholics, but only one of those views, the one I will present, is consistent with Catholic teaching, while the other view clearly dissents from Catholic teaching.” 

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Bishop Paprocki began his address to the crowd powerfully noting the media discrepancy in covering the Matthew Shepard murder and that of his own former secretary, a mother of four, who was killed by a homosexual man for urging him to change his gay lifestyle.

"A Google search on the Internet for the name 'Matthew Shepard' at one time produced 11,900,000 results," said the bishop. "Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old college student who was savagely beaten to death in 1998 in Wyoming. His murder has been called a hate crime because Shepard was gay."

He continued: 

A similar search on the Internet for the name “Mary Stachowicz” yielded 26,800 results.  In 2002, Mary Stachowicz was also brutally murdered, but the circumstances were quite different. 

Mary, the gentle, devout 51-year-old Catholic mother of four urged her co-worker, Nicholas Gutierrez, 19, to change his gay lifestyle. Infuriated by this, as he later told police, he allegedly beat, stabbed and strangled her to death and then stuffed her mangled body in a crawl space in his apartment, located above a Chicago funeral home, where they both worked.

I know about Mary Stachowicz, not from the Internet, but personally, because Mary was my secretary at the parish where I was pastor before I was named a Bishop.

She worked part time at the funeral home and part time at the parish. One afternoon, she didn’t show up at her usual starting time. This was unusual because she was always on time. A call to the funeral home disclosed that her car was still in their parking lot and her purse with her car keys was still at her desk, but there was no sign of Mary. 

As Mary’s family and friends prayed and worried about her disappearance, Gutierrez prayed with them. Three days later, her mutilated body was discovered in a crawl space in his apartment. 

Both murders were senseless and brutal, and I condemn them both unequivocally. However, the fact that there are over eleven and a half million more Internet stories about Matthew Shepard than Mary Stachowicz indicates where popular sentiment lies today on the question of same-sex relationships. Shepard’s story has received such widespread attention because his homosexuality was the chief motive for his murder.

Mary’s murder was widely ignored by the media, despite the fact that she died as a martyr for her faith. 

Bishop Paprocki was unabashed in saying, “the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and marriage is Catholic because it is true, not true because it is Catholic. “

He said: “In other words, the conclusion that same-sex relationships should not be afforded legal status is because it is based on the truth, not just on Catholic teaching. Yet, saying that makes this conclusion all the more controversial. If it were based simply on Catholic teaching, opponents could say in our pluralistic context, ‘You Catholics are entitled to your opinion, but that is not binding on others.’ Instead, saying that truth is the reason that same-sex relationships should not be afforded legal status is offensive to those who deny the existence of truth, who prefer to live in a world dominated by what Pope Benedict XVI termed a ‘dictatorship of relativism.’”

Bishop Paprocki’s full address is available here.